DJI today unveiled the Mavic Air 2, the successor to the Mavic Air that was released in early 2018. There isn’t much in the way of surprises — the manual leaked in full last week — but the company detailed a few of the photography features debuting on its latest mid-range, travel-friendly foldable drone.
DJI asserts that the Mavic Air 2 isn’t just a refinement of the Mavic Air — that it built the product from the ground up with a new manufacturing process. This is reflected in the Mavic Air 2’s faster flight speed and longer flight time, the company says, as well as the drone’s dimensions and weight. It’s 570 grams — just over 100 grams heavier than the original Mavic Air (430 grams) — and only a smidge larger, at 180 x 97 x 84 millimeters compared to 168 x 83 x 49 millimeters.
The Mavic Air 2 features a 1/2-inch 48-megapixel Quad Bayer sensor, which has four photosites — one for each color pixel. This enables it to capture different exposures simultaneously and smooth out color and tone while reducing image noise. The Mavic Air 2 also has the distinction of being the first drone in the Mavic lineup to be able to record 4K video at 60 frames per second and 120Mbps, optionally in high dynamic range (HDR) or panoramic high dynamic range.
On the software side, the Mavic Air 2 can capture either 12-megapixel or 48-megapixel photos and slow-motion videos at 4 to 8 times speed (240 frames per second) in 1080p. Its SmartPhoto photography suite includes Scene Recognition, which taps AI to detect sunsets, blue skies, grass, snow, and trees and optimize the color, detail, and tones accordingly; Hyperlight, which takes multiple snapshots and merges them to cut down on noise and boost brightness; and HDR Photo, which automatically captures seven photos at various exposures and merges them together to improve contrast.
In addition, the Mavic Air 2 ships with a family of videography features dubbed FocusTrack. Spotlight 2.0 — which was previously reserved for higher-end DJI drones like the Inspire 2 — locks a subject in the frame while letting the pilot move the drone. ActiveTrack 3.0 selects a subject to follow automatically, employing 3D mapping tech and revamped path-finding algorithms to better recognize subjects, avoid obstacles, and re-engage when subjects occlude. Lastly, Point of Interest 3.0 — which benefits from improved surface recognition — sets an automated flight path around a target person, animal, or thing.
There’s also QuickShots, a set of preprogrammed flight maneuvers (Rocket, Circle, Dronie, Helix, Boomerang, and Asteroid) that use the Mavic Air 2’s 3-axis gimbal and electronic image stabilization for ultra-steady footage. In mid-May, we’ll see an 8K “hyperlapse” feature that mimics the effect of a timelapse but with the added element of physical movement.
Beyond the Mavic Air 2’s camera chops, DJI is spotlighting the flight performance, which the company characterizes as “unparalleled” in the drone’s price range. That remains to be seen, but it’s true the Mavic Air 2’s quoted flight time — 34 minutes — exceeds that of the Mavic Air (21 minutes), while the maximum transmission distance is substantially improved, at 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) over both 2.4GHz and 5.8GHz frequency bands versus the Mavic Air’s 4-kilometer (2.4-mile) range. (DJI’s OcuSync 2.0 tech automatically switches between the two bands based on signal strength.) As for the top speed, it’s the same as the Mavic Air: 68.4 kilometers per hour (42.5 miles per hour).
Those aren’t the only hardware upgrades of note. The Mavic Air 2 has obstacle sensors on the front and rear that warn pilots when they’re too close to an object and can stop the drone from moving any closer in order to avoid collisions. Additional sensors and auxiliary lights assist with other functions, like automatic landing in difficult lighting conditions. DJI’s AirSense technology warns nearby drone pilots of other aircraft (like airplanes and helicopters) and displays their location on the controller’s screen, and the updated Advanced Pilot Assistance System (APAS 3.0) helps the Mavic Air 2 create a new path around, under, or over objects with smooth transitions and fluid movements. (DJI says that AirSense will initially only be available in North America but will come to other regions in “summer 2020.”)
The Mavic Air 2 is available for preorder starting today at $799 — the same MSRP as the Mavic Air — which puts it between the smaller DJI Mavic Mini and pricier Mavic 2 Pro. It ships with a redesigned remote controller with a speaker and spring-loaded phone mount, all necessary wires and cables, and a single battery. The $988 Fly More package throws in two extra batteries, a case, a charging hub, and neutral-density filters.
Firm global ship dates haven’t been announced yet, but DJI says it expects the Mavic Air 2 to hit U.S. stores on May 11 (and Canada on May 15). It’s available in China starting this week, and preorders for the rest of the world begin today.
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